One of the techniques I have used in my developmental writing classes to begin the quarter involves brown bags (the kind we use to pack our lunches…if we don’t have a lunch box). I ask students to put “things” in the brown bag that they have brought to class. The objects could be keys, a license, a pen, pictures, money…anything they have with them that doesn’t prove embarrassing to them. They exchange bags and then each of the students empties the partner’s bag and writes the impression he/she has of the partner based on the contents of the bag. No grade. Once that is done, they share with each other…reading to each other, the impressions they had. The partner agrees or disagrees and they share with one another who they really are. Then each person writes about “the new” partner. For homework, I ask each student to go home and write a description of their partner…looks and personality (so far). I do collect those. It breaks the ice, begins writing, and starts description and revision.
–Linda Houston, Faculty, English, Ohio State University (ATI), OH